Thursday Newspaper round up.

The cardinals of the Roman Catholic church on Wednesday chose as their new pope a man from almost “the end of the world” – the first non-European to be elected for almost 1,300 years and the first-ever member of the Jesuit order.  Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, becomes Pope Francis – the first pontiff to take that name – an early indication perhaps of a reign he hopes will be marked by inspirational preaching and evangelisation. But the cardinals’ choice risked running into immediate controversy over the new pope’s role in Argentina’s troubled history. In his book, El Silencio, a prominent Argentinian journalist alleged that he connived in the abduction of two Jesuit priests by the military junta in the so-called “dirty war”. He denies the accusation.

The new pope appeared on the balcony over the entrance to St Peter’s basilica more than an hour after white smoke poured from the chimney above the Sistine Chapel, signalling that the cardinals had made their choice. Dressed in his new white robes, the bespectacled Argentinian prelate looked pensive and perhaps a little intimidated as he looked out at the sea of jubilant humanity in the square. The Guardian

According to The Independent, mining firm BHP Billiton is facing a corruption inquiry on speculation that it allegedly provided ‘inducements, hospitality and gifts’ to Chinese officials at the Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2008. The paper says that BHP could be hit with a multimillion-dollar fine.

Britain is “woefully under-prepared” to cope with an expected explosion of older people and ministers need to respond by raising the retirement age and tackle the costs by reviewing pensioner benefits, a House of Lords inquiry concluded. A special committee of peers blamed successive governments for their failure to tackle policy issues generated by the ageing population, warned that the biggest threats are to already stretched health and social services, and proposed a raft of new policies to help people cope. Led by Lord Filkin, the group did not put forward a specific timetable for increasing the state pension age – already set to rise from 60 for women and 65 for men, to 66 in 2020 and 68 by 2046 – but the body did cite recommendations made by Lord Turner, chairman of the pensions commission, who had said the threshold could rise to 70 by 2030. Controversially, the peers also suggest a review of pensioner benefits, which currently include free public transport and TV licences for the over-75s, plus help with heating bills – universal schemes that critics claim waste money as many pensioners are relatively wealthy. The Guardian

Telecoms giant Vodafone has ended its long-running sponsorship deal with McLaren worth $75m a year following last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix which went ahead in spite of violent anti-government protests, writes The Times. The Chief Commercial Officer of Vodafone, Morten Lundal, was quoted as saying that the company has “less need for this kind of exposure in future”.

The Bank of England has said that the collapse of debt-laden companies bought by private-equity groups in the boom years before the crash “pose a risk to the stability of the financial systems” as refinancing looms, writes The Guardian. The paper says that the next phase of the UK’s six-year financial and economic crisis may be triggered.

The Telegraph reports that MEPs have rejected European Union spending cuts and demanded an extra £14bn in spending from national governments this year, an additional £1.7bn for British taxpayers.

According to The Telegraph, Qatar is in talks to spend up to £10bn on infrastructure projects in the UK by setting up a fund to invest in road, rail and energy schemes. The paper says that discussions with ministers are at a “very early stage”.

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